Apple, Samsung Officially Enter Settlement Talks in U.S.
April 18, 2012 6:30 PM
Global patent war could reach an armistice, sparing the companies billion in mutual business
Apple, Inc. (
) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) ended 2011
in a virtual tie
for the global lead in smartphone sales. Apple is the maker of the iconic iPhone, pivotal in the smartphone craze, which took off in 2007 after the early efforts of the likes of Research in Motion, Ltd. (
) and Microsoft Corp. (
). Samsung, meanwhile, has emerged as the world top phonemaker of the world's top platform -- Android.
I. Settlement Talks Announced
The pair on Tuesday agreed before
Judge Lucy Koh
to participate in "Alternative Dispute Resolution" (ADR) -- a series of settlement talks. Judge Koh described:
The parties have indicated that they are willing to participate in a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference ('MJSC'). ECF No. 873. Therefore, the parties are hereby referred to an MJSC with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero with a 90-day deadline. As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate at the MJSC.
While the settlement talks will take place in and primarily pertain to the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California
-- a San Francisco court -- a settlement deal could reach globally, ending the companies’ lawsuits against each other spanning twenty cases in ten different countries.
"Frenemys" Apple and Samsung have agreed to consider settling.
[Image Source: TechnoBuffalo]
Both companies have created controversy in their bids to ban each other’s best-selling products.
II. Controversial Cases
Apple's ban hopes hinge upon patents such as its
prized multi-touch patent
, which describes:
A touch panel having a transparent capacitive sensing medium configured to detect multiple touches or near touches that occur at the same time and at distinct locations in the plane of the touch panel and to produce distinct signals representative of the location of the touches on the plane of the touch panel for each of the multiple touches is disclosed
The only issue is that description -- and the body itself -- covers multi-touch methods that had already been widely documented in research labs, other patents, and tech demos. The crucial thing is that
was on multi-touch
on a capacitive display
Apple claims it "invented" multi-touch despite decades of prior art.
[Image Source: XDA Developers]
Similar issues have been raised about Apple's
"slide to unlock" patents
. Apple's legal approach has been matched by Samsung, which attempted to sue Apple using many standards patents it had promised to freely license under the
"fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" (FRAND)
rules. Samsung's interpretation of non-discriminatory apparently means
not discriminating against anyone except Apple
III. Why Settle? Try, "$8B USD in Mutual Business"
Despite both companies' controversial tactics and bitter feud, they also share a great deal of business. As one of the world's largest smartphone chipmakers, Samsung manufactures nearly all of Apple's smartphone and tablet system-on-a-chip designs. The companies reportedly have $8B USD worth of common business a year.
The brains of the iPhones are still made by Samsung, now at its new Austin, Texas factory.
[Image Source: iFixIt]
Thus there's a lot of pressure for Apple and Samsung to settle from a mutual interests perspective. Then again, Oracle Corp. (
) and Google Inc. (
failed to reach a settlement
in a similar talks, and their
case went to trial
Apple chief executive
and Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung will both participate in the settlement talks. If a settlement is not reached, a trial will begin this July.
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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